Explained: How is the President of India elected?

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Deccan Herald, June 10, 2022

As the tenure of the current President Ram Nath Kovind ends on July 24, the Election Commission of India announced on Thursday the dates for the 16th Presidential elections. The polling for the new Indian President will be held on July 18. The result will be declared on July 21.

The process of electing the President in India is not like that of some other democracies, say the United States. We break down the process of electing the President of India: who can vote, the voting procedure, and other mechanisms involved.

Who can take part in the voting process?

Article 54 of the Indian Constitution explains the provisions for the voters who can participate in the election of the President. It states that the President of India can only be elected by the members of an electoral college, which includes the MPs of both Houses of the Parliament, and the elected member of Legislative Assemblies of all states, including Delhi and Puducherry (both are UTs).

The term “elected member” clarifies that no member, who has been nominated to either house of the Parliament or the assemblies, can participate in the elections.

Similarly, Members of Legislative Councils of states cannot vote in Presidential elections either.

As Lok Sabha has two and Rajya Sabha has 12 nominated members, voters from the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are 543 and 233, respectively, making it 776 voters from Parliament.

Additionally, the Members of Legislative Assemblies of all states, Delhi and Puducherry, amount to 4,033 voters—this takes the total number of members in the Presidential electoral college to 4,809.

Value of the voter, not the number of votes, matters

Members of Parliament and Members of the Legislative Assembly have different values assigned to them. The value of an MP’s vote is fixed at 700—which is calculated by dividing the total value of votes of all the states and UTs by the total number of elected MPs. Since the total number of votes as per the ECI is 5,43,200 and the number of MPs is 776, the value of a vote for each MP is 700 (5,43,200/776).

The value was reduced from 708 after the Jammu & Kashmir Assembly was dissolved in 2018, which comprised 87 members having a total vote value of 6,264.

The value of an MLAs vote differs according to the state the MLA comes from.

The MLA’s vote value is dependent on the population of his/her state and the strength of that state’s Legislative Assembly.

To ensure uniformity here, there is a formula that is used to determine the value: the population of the state is divided by 1,000 times the strength of its Legislative Assembly.

However, the 84th Amendment of the Constitution has disallowed any change in constituency boundaries till the national census conducted after 2026 can be published. That will only happen once the census of 2031 is published.

This means the population which is undertaken for this process is based on the 1971 census. For example, if we intend to calculate the value of vote that an MLA from Karnataka will have, we use Karnataka’s population data from the 1971 census which was 29,299,014, and the strength of the Karnataka Assembly which stands at 224.

Therefore, the value would be 29,299,014 divided (224 x 100), which equals 130.7, rounding it off to 131. Hence, a Karnataka MLA’s vote will have a value of 131.

Presently, at 208, MLAs from Uttar Pradesh have the highest value assigned to their votes, while Sikkim has the lowest, which stands at seven.

How did J&K affect the vote value?

Before it was reorganised into forming a Union Territory in 2019, the erstwhile state of J&K had an 87-member Assembly. However, after Article 370 was revoked, the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act stated that while Ladakh will be administered by the Centre, J&K will have a Legislative Assembly, the election to which would have been announced after the delimitation of the constituencies.

In its final order, the Delimitation Commission for Jammu and Kashmir recommended a 90-member assembly for the region. However, since an elected house is yet to be in place, J&K will not be eligible to take part in the voting for the Presidential elections.

As per the Election Commission’s data released on Thursday, the total value of votes of the MPs is 5,43,200 while that of MLAs is 5,43,231 thereby taking the total sum to 10,86,431.

 

States and UTs

 

 

Number of MLAs

 

 

Population (1971 Census)

 

 

Value of Each Vote

 

 

Total Value

 

 

ANDHRA PRADESH

 

 

175

 

 

2,78,00,586

 

 

159

 

 

27,825

 

 

ARUNACHAL PRADESH

 

 

60

 

 

4,67,511

 

 

8

 

 

480

 

 

ASSAM

 

 

126

 

 

1,46,25,152

 

 

116

 

 

14,616

 

 

BIHAR

 

 

243

 

 

4,21,26,236

 

 

173

 

 

42,039

 

 

CHHATTISGARH

 

 

90

 

 

1,16,37,494

 

 

129

 

 

11,610

 

 

GOA

 

 

40

 

 

7,95,120

 

 

20

 

 

800

 

 

GUJARAT

 

 

182

 

 

2,66,97,475

 

 

147

 

 

26,754

 

 

HARYANA

 

 

90

 

 

1,00,36,808

 

 

112

 

 

10,080

 

 

HIMACHAL PRADESH

 

 

68

 

 

34,60,434

 

 

51

 

 

3,468

 

 

JHARKHAND

 

 

81

 

 

1,42,27,133

 

 

176

 

 

14,256

 

 

KARNATAKA

 

 

224

 

 

2,92,99,014

 

 

131

 

 

29,344

 

 

KERALA

 

 

140

 

 

2,13,47,375

 

 

152

 

 

21,280

 

 

MADHYA PRADESH

 

 

230

 

 

3,00,16,625

 

 

131

 

 

30,130

 

 

MAHARASHTRA

 

 

288

 

 

5,04,12,235

 

 

175

 

 

50,400

 

 

MANIPUR

 

 

60

 

 

10,72,753

 

 

18

 

 

1,080

 

 

MEGHALAYA

 

 

60

 

 

10,11,699

 

 

17

 

 

1,020

 

 

MIZORAM

 

 

40

 

 

3,32,390

 

 

8

 

 

320

 

 

NAGALAND

 

 

60

 

 

5,16,449

 

 

9

 

 

540

 

 

ODISHA

 

 

147

 

 

2,19,44,615

 

 

149

 

 

21,903

 

 

PUNJAB

 

 

117

 

 

1,35,51,060

 

 

116

 

 

13,572

 

 

RAJASTHAN

 

 

200

 

 

2,57,65,806

 

 

129

 

 

25,800

 

 

SIKKIM

 

 

32

 

 

2,09,843

 

 

7

 

 

224

 

 

TAMIL NADU

 

 

234

 

 

4,11,99,168

 

 

176

 

 

41,184

 

 

TELANGANA

 

 

119

 

 

1,57,02,122

 

 

132

 

 

15,708

 

 

TRIPURA

 

 

60

 

 

15,56,342

 

 

26

 

 

1,560

 

 

UTTARAKHAND

 

 

70

 

 

44,91,239

 

 

64

 

 

4,480

 

 

UTTAR PRADESH

 

 

403

 

 

8,38,49,905

 

 

208

 

 

83,824

 

 

WEST BENGAL

 

 

294

 

 

4,43,12,011

 

 

151

 

 

44,394

 

 

NCT OF DELHI

 

 

70

 

 

40,65,698

 

 

58

 

 

4,060

 

 

PUDUCHERRY

 

 

30

 

 

4,71,707

 

 

16

 

 

480

 

 

TOTAL

 

 

4,033

 

 

54,93,02,005

 

 

5,43,231

 

The voting procedure

Like the Rajya Sabha elections, the presidential elections, too, follow the system of a single transferable vote and are based on the principle of proportional representation.

The principle of a single transferable vote allows voters to choose any number of candidates in order of preference. For example, if 10 candidates are contesting the election, the voters can mark them as 1,2,3,4, and so on, based on their choice.

The ballot paper which is provided to the voters does not contain symbols of any political parties, and there are two columns present on it. The first column contains the name of the candidates contesting the election, while the second column has the order of preference. The voters can mark their preferences in the space provided next to the name of the candidates.

The candidate securing the maximum number of first preference votes is declared the winner.

As per its latest announcement, the Election Commission has stated that voters will have to use the pen that will be provided by the EC for marking the preference, and alteration to this will nullify the voter’s ballot paper.

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